The Weekend Leader - Single window clearance a thing of past: Estranged Kerala businessman

Single window clearance a thing of past: Estranged Kerala businessman



Photo: IANS

Estranged Kerala businessman Sabu Jacob, who leads Kitex business house, is in no mood to relent in his attacks on the investment atmosphere in his home state, after getting a red carpet welcome at Telangana.

"This Single Window Clearance is a thing of the past and in Kerala, it is like the frog in the well. Lot of things have changed and Kerala is yet to understand or fathom it and continues to brag about the Single Window Clearance which is available for investors," Jacob told the media, after returning from Telengana, whose response he termed "something unbelievable".

He dismissed the statement that Kerala is favourable for investment.

"Lot of investors here are driven to the wall and have even committed suicide, unable to carry forward with their business. If we continue to be haunted, we will wind up our entire operations in Kerala and move elsewhere," he added.

He noted that though they have been in business in Kerala for the past 53 years, had they been in some other states, their growth would have been manifold.

Jacob and his six-member team, who returned from Telangana after flying out in a private jet chartered by the state government, had announced that they will invest Rs 1,000 crore to set up an apparel manufacturing unit in the Kakatiya Mega Textiles Park (KMTP) at Warangal there after having a few rounds of discussions with Telangana Industry Minister K.T. Rama Rao and senior officials.

Jacob blew his top after he claims he was haunted and hunted by numerous government departments in the past one month, but this charge has been flatly denied by both Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and State Industries Minister P. Rajeev.

"I don't think we need to reply to baseless destructive comments and the best policy is to remain silent, as it will be of no good to Kerala," said Rajeev.

Kitex Garments, the second-largest children's apparel manufacturer in the world, after a series of raids by various state government agencies, announced the scrapping of the Rs 3,500 crore project for which it had signed a memorandum with the Kerala government at the 'Ascend Global Investors Meet' in Kochi in January 2020.

As part of the project, an apparel park was to be opened in Kochi, besides the establishment of industrial parks in Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi, and Palakkad.

Kitex fell on the wrong side of the political establishment in Kerala after Jacob floated a political outfit named 'Twenty 20' -- which was earlier registered as a non-profit organisation -- and wrested power in the Kizhakkambalam panchayat in Ernakulam district.

In the recent Assembly elections, Twenty 20 contested six seats but could not win any.

Jacob has gone on record to state that the Kerala government is not providing any subsidy, including for power, noting that it is all profit for the state government and there is no professional interest being envisaged by it.

He had also alleged that things are at the mercy of the local level leaders here, and even an upper division clerk in the state can scuttle the prospects of an industrialist.

Kerala is lagging behind in industrial growth and the attitude of the rulers and the bureaucracy is the reason behind this, he had said.

Jacob and his establishment saw 11 teams of officers from various departments raiding the company in the past one month. The company employees were also grilled for hours.

It was then that Jacob had announced that he will move out of the state, following which offers poured in from nine states.

Even while the present controversy is continuing in Kerala, the share value of Kitex continues to rise and after his arrival in Telangana and his announcement of investment there, it, in a matter of two days, rose by Rs 28 to touch Rs 168.-IANS

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